2020 has been a tumultous year for Ubisoft and its studio culture. After numerous reports of toxic behavior, stories of abuse, and HR inconsistencies, the studio at large opened a company-wide investigation into the reports that have come in and all new reports that continue to become known. This upheaval has also resulted in several upper level fires of Ubisoft executives.
Earlier this month, Michel Ancel announced that he was leaving the studio to work at a wildlife sanctuary, but now a new report alleges that he left due to an ongoing investigation into his behavior at the company. Ancel has now responded to those reports.
The initial report began from a French publication called Liberation, an article that cited Ancel's alleged toxic and abusive behavior towards his team as a reason why an investigation was launched against him. It was that investigation that the site states was the reason why Ancel departed from the company.
A translation, courtesy of Kotaku, shed further light on the allegations, stating that Beyond Good and Evil 2 has been essentially in development hell, a state that was spurred on by Ancel's reported leadership style. Ubisoft has since confirmed that the investigation into Ancel has been ongoing.
Depression, burnout, and exhaustion are all linked in the initial report, something that Ancel himself vehemently denied. In a lengthy statement on his Instagram, the former dev began with the "Fake News" mantra.
"Take a few people with rage and jealousy and let them speak in the name of hundreds," reads his Instagram post. "Publish the news fast so that it combines with sexual harassment from other news at Ubisoft. Is this serious? Is this what you expect from a national newspaper. I will fight for the truth because such accusations are a shame. I worked hard on every of my projects and always had respect for the teams."
He then numerically listed off the aspects of the initial report that he will be continuing to fight against, saying that he has never promoted a negative work environment, instead he brought "a vision."
He then challenged journalists for why the other devs under his care were not also being called out, including managers and supervisors. He also refuted the allegation that he was often fickle during his projects, something that could negatively impact development.
"I've spent years explaining why the city should not be re done from scratch. Hours explaining that characters were good enough and did not need to be redone. Same for planets and all. But sometimes some people in the team changed things despite my advices. Managers are here to solve this".
He finished his statement by saying, "The news from Libération contains fake informations revealed by a few people who wants to destroy me and the projects. This can't be done without me fighting every single lines of that news. I've offered the journalist the opportunity to take enough time to look at all the mistakes. Let's see what he will do."
This story is very much developing. Sources that have worked closely with Ancel in the past have told Game Informer that Ancel will likely not let this issue rest.